• Billie Proffitt

There Are Plenty of Coyotes In The Hills

Sunday, 7:25 AM

To: My Now “Old” Roommate/Best Everyday Friend

“I came up into Nature to start my day, as we discussed... when I got here I felt weird realizing I've probably only been here once this year, after I used to come up to this spot almost every night.

A coyote came out just below me on the hill - poor thing was so scared of me. Ran away as fast as he could, only slowing pace to look back at me.

So I looked it up:

‘If Coyote has come skulking across your path, you are being reminded to laugh at yourself. Things have been entirely too serious of late and you simply need to let loose and get on with it. Stop dwelling on your worries and stresses and let them go. You have asked for the help you need so step aside and allow your spirit helpers to do what they need to do. Do something that gives you pleasure and joy, and focus on the positive for a change.’

But he wasn't skulking at all, he was so terrified of me - he looked like (him) looking at me. Jesus christ, I'm such a hard-lined bitch I even scared a coyote with my energy. How am I going to grow out of this??”

Sunday, 7:50 AM

To: Me

“I think that both (he) and the coyote are just scared beings in general. I don’t think you should blame yourself for what happened with him, nor the coyote running away from you.

I actually think the symbolism is right, that you do need to laugh at yourself. See you in class.”

‘Cause I was gonna be your forever,

You were gonna be my wife.

We didn’t know any better,

Didn’t have a clue about life.

But I was what you wanted, you were what I needed,

And we could meet in between.

We were gonna be the greatest love story this town had ever seen…

I sat on my sofa this past Saturday for hours in a bikini as a perfect, late-summer-in-LA pool day passed us by... But we were busy… Fighting.


And I’m still confused, because in equal parts I know exactly why, as to having absolutely no idea why… Or is the latter just my logical big self, trying to protect my hurt little self?

So you went off to (New Zealand) and I got a job, I was working that 9 to 5,

Dreaming of the days when you were in my arms, I’ve never felt so alive,

I spent my days working, spent my nights drinking, howling at the moon,

Screaming for the days when you were coming back, no it couldn’t come too soon…

We were coming up on move-out day from our Minnesota apartment – notice had been given almost 60 days ago, and he was putting in his two-week notice with his corporate job on Monday – I mean, my god, he’d already closed down his business! His baby... The shingles across his chest were proof of his anxiety about changes.

But marriage is supposed to be problems halved, right?

He would sit intermittently, then get up to put his backpack on and pick his suitcase up as if he was leaving. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” he repeated again and again, each time, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“I know you don’t,” I’d reply.

He’d pace. He’d look out the sliding glass doors blankly. He’d put the bags down. He’d ignore my questions or statements. He’d look at me blankly. He’d do it all again.

“I don’t know what I’m doing.”

When I was gonna be your forever,

You were gonna be my wife.

But you went off to find better,

And I was learning all about life.

But I was what you wanted, and you were what I needed,

And we could meet in between.

We were gonna be the greatest love story this town had ever seen…

That morning we had been to our first couples counseling session. I booked it as an ultimatum, along with a ticket for him the week before: “If you’re not on that plane Thursday, don’t bother ever contacting me again. I’m not marrying this,” I had told him.


The session seemed to go well. I mean, he was there, first of all! He was on that plane and missed (yet another) golf weekend with the same group of misogynist males he’s been golfing with his entire life.

These demands aren’t my natural state of being; they are the result of being hurt so deeply and so broadly, in the same way, soooooo many times… that this dictatorial and dark meanness has become real in me. Was it all too little and too late by this point, or was this just never meant to be at all?

So you came back after a long (few) years,

Your (other) boyfriend didn’t work out, (- ahem, live)

So we went out for a couple’a drinks to find out who we are now,

Sure we changed but way deep down, you had the same old feelings for me,

I went to the store and I bought you a ring and I got down on one knee,

Got down on one knee…

After asking him some questions in the session earlier, the couples counsellor’s hand had covered her heart, “I can feel that – how lonely you are. I’m so sorry. Nobody should feel as lonely as you did as a child, or as you do now.”

But his response completely walked over any real feeling at all: “Oh no, I don’t feel lonely. This is the only way I’ve ever known to feel, so my life isn’t lonely at all.”

Replaying this in my mind hours later on my couch as we argued, something fascinating happened… I’ve had this wormhole experience twice before in my life – once with my mother, and once with my second near-marriage… It’s when I live in someone else’s perspective for a moment, as if I am in their body, experiencing the situation through them, and unfortunately, it’s never been in a joyful sense.

It was terrifying – much scarier than anything I have ever known that has actually almost killed me… The visceral feelings overwhelmed me, making me unbearably sad, as I realized he just has to gather his strength and break through this self-inflicted captivity. I hadn’t cried all day until this moment.

I felt like a cow being raised as veal. I was trapped in a rigid wooden box, so tight that my limbs were desperately trying to slip through the slats, but I was too big, and the box was too tight… All I wanted was to be released from this horror. Outside of this insufferable box, it was so cold and damp, and so dark. I felt how scared he was, because I felt scared, and worst of all, I saw no end of it in sight – just this slow torture for the rest of my life.

I was telling myself inside this tormenting space, that it’s just like the parable of the Circus Elephant that he had taught me

“As my friend passed the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. There were no chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they didn’t? My friend asked the trainer nearby why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

‘Well,’ he sighed, ‘when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away, so they just never try.’”

“Oh my god! Oh my god!! OH MY GOD! This is what it feels like to be you?”

I explained my vision and described what I felt as I sat in his box, in his body, in his emotional perspective. He began to cry too, nodding his head in agreement with me.


“This is the loneliness she spoke about today. Oh my god, this is horrible,” I sobbed.

I had already – when this argument began hours before – told him to call the couples counsellor to ask for help, and he did. Apparently she had called him back just twenty minutes after that, but he didn’t notice… Because after leaving her a voicemail, he put his work phone on silent and in his pocket.

So even as our fighting continued – which included getting out his phone to check calendar dates and prices on websites, etc – he used his personal phone and never saw her missed call on his work phone: her professional help right at our beck and call.

I scolded him for this, “How could you have missed her! There she was, standing right there with a screwdriver, to help us both out of this horrible, tiny, dark, cold, lonely goddamned box! You just don’t want out of it!”

He called her again, leaving another message asking for help.

It wasn’t long before his work phone rang with her call back as his refusal to book plane tickets and choose between the shipping company and the U-Haul options continued and snot ran down my face as I blubbered about the torture in the box… In about ten seconds, he went from tears to answering:

“Hi there, Amanda… Yeah, yeah, everything’s alright.”

Everything is NOT alright!” I screamed, but he was already in the hallway chatting away as if they were delving up which recipes to make for the church bake sale.

I love this man so, so much, and I care for him so, so deeply, th